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Phillip M. Way | Marble Falls, Texas
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TIME in the Word Ministries
PO Box 1495
Marble Falls, Texas 78654
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Daily Devotional - The Cycle of Church Growth
Posted by: TIME in the Word Ministries | more..
1,500+ views | 210+ clicks
TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 4:12
...for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...

Daily Scripture Reading - Acts 2

Devotional Thoughts
In the coming days we will continue on in Ephesians 4 and look at the results of proper church growth. In other words, we will see that the Bible tells us to expect when the church is actually and truly growing. What does a growing church look like? What does it do? But before we get there we need to take one more look at verse 12 and work to define the cycle of true church growth.

All that we have learned the last few days can be summed up in a cycle of activity that gives us evidence that a church is alive, healthy, and growing. When members of the church use their gifts (both individually and corporately), the saints are equipped to do the work of the ministry and thereby edified in the body. And in truth, it is part of the job description for pastors to oversee the growth of the Body.

If a church is not growing as it should be then the pastor is the doctor who makes the diagnosis and takes the congregation to the Word of God for the treatment and cure to the ailment! Instead, too often, the pastor is just the CEO and as long as the church is making and spending money there is no evaluation, no check up, and no worries about the true condition of the body!

If the church was YOUR body wouldn't you want to know if there was a deadly disease present, even if your body was dressed in nice clothes driving a nice car and being envied by other people? And yet so many churches are not truly growing. They are expanding, getting obese when it comes to budgets, bodies, and buildings, but there is no maturity, no stability, and no depth. And no one is concerend because as long as we are entertained and as long as we feel good about church then there is no need to change how we are doing anything. As long as my needs are met then I am content. Frightening, isn't it?

So what is this cycle? What does a healthy, growing church look like and live like? A healthy growing church will:

1. Evangelize.

Evangelists, and indeed all believers, preach the gospel at every opportunity. This is how the lost are saved and how people are added to the church. It is how the cycle of growth begins, with new birth, with re-creation, with the conversion of sinners. If there is no evangelism in and out of the church then the church really cannot claim to be a church! For the church exists to exalt and worship and serve God while taking the gospel to the world.

Do you evangelize? Does your church? This does not mean that an evangelistic sermon at church means that we have met the obligation you know. It means that there is to be a way of life, a walk, an attitude of evangelism in everything that we do. If we are not constantly thinking about how to witness to those who need to hear the gospel, if we are not burdened for the lost, then perhaps we need to ask ourselves if we even understand the gospel ourselves!

2. Equip.

Pastor-teachers and mature believers teach and equip the new converts in the church, discipling them as they mature and learn and grow. Is the church body being equipped? It is being nurtured to maturity?

Too many sermons are preached that do not equip. They inform. They teach. They convict. They motivate. They inspire. They challenge. But do they equip? Do the sermons preached by your pastor feed you, nourish you, and equip you when it comes to bearing fruit, overcoming sin, and glorifying God?

I am disturbed by the number of people I meet that claim to know Christ and yet live like the world. You would never know they were a follower of Christ unless they told you and were adamant that this was not a joke! But this is a symptom of a greater problem. People in our pews are not being equipped. Listen to this carefully - too many people in our churches do not know how to live the Christian life! All they know is what God can do for them. Their faith is focused on what God can do or has done for them instead of what they can do and should do for Him! Their faith is about fixing their marriage, their kids, their finances, or some other problem that needs attention. God is not a Sovereign Master, He is spare tire to be used when we have a blow out in our lives!

This kind of selfish faith is not saving faith. And it is evidence of a church that is not being equipped! And since equipping the saints is the basic duty of every pastor then an unequipped church should truly think about firing their pastor!! I don't say that lightly. But I do say it because most of the pastors I know who have been fired were fired when they tried to equip the church but the "church" wanted nothing of it!

3. Esteem.

New converts learn to esteem others by doing the work of ministry and service, imitating older, more mature believers. If a person claims to be a Christian for any length of time and their focus is still on themselves instead of on others then not only have they not been equipped, but they are quite ignorant of God's Word and His purposes for the church!

The Christian life, if presented truthfully, is a life of suffering, sacrifice, and service. At first glance we think these are all bad and demeaning things. But in truth, it is a privilege and honor to suffer for Christ. It is a duty to sacrifice for God and each other. And it is an requirement that we serve each other if we are truly His children! After all, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

How do you esteem others? Does your attitude and actions and words about others demonstrate that you are being equipped at church or do they identify a need for repentance and renewal in your faith?

A church that does not suffer, sacrifice, and serve is not growing, and possibly is not even a church. No matter the number of people present, this is a non-negotiable. Proud, covetous people cannot claim with a straight face to be a Christian, because to follow Christ is death to self and life poured out for others. If you are #1, you are killing your church!!

4. Edify.

The church is built and grows and matures so that it can with confidence do its main work (which is seen in the next step). But first, we need to see that a church that is really growing is a church comprised of people who are obedient to the Word of God - that is, they look and act like saints instead of sinners (not that they are perfect, but they imitate Christ).

Too often today people think the church should be full of sinners - meaning people who actively sin often. Yes we are sinners. Yes we will sin. But sin should not be tolerated or excused. It should be forsaken, confessed, and repented of immediately!

In reality, a church that is growing is a church that looks more and more like Jesus. They are being sanctified. Transformed. Revived.

If a church claims to be growing and cites numbers as proof then we really should just dismiss their claim. The Bible tells us more about the numbers of those who left Jesus than of those who followed. Beside that, growth is not about numbers! It is about faithful obedience, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and building the Body up.

Ask any person right now how big their church is and someone will make a judgment - as soon as an answer is given someone will make up their mind and jump to a conclusion about how healthy that church is. Is this not true? Seriously. I mean it.

Let me tell you about two churches and you tell me what you think. These churches are across the street from each other. Both were founded in the last 10 years. Both are from a historically reformed and evangelical tradition in their denominational affiliation. One has around 200 people in attendance every week. The other has 4.

What conclusions did you just jump to?

Which church is growing?

Which is truly being edified and equipped?

Hopefully you will say that you do not have enough information to make a decision. But many who drive past on Sunday morning would say that one is growing and the other dying! All that to say, when it comes to edification, numbers do not automatically equal growth.

Now remember where we started on this point in our cycle? The church is built and grows and matures so that it can with confidence do its main work which is seen in the next step.

5. Evangelize.

So here we have the cycle of church growth.


Here then is a summary of the puposes of the church:

In answer to a question about the purpose of the church, one of our elders wrote this statement.


Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement (pdf) by Bob DeWaay
Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats? by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

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